2020 Volkswagen Passat Polishes Up Its Looks, But Keeps Aging Underpinnings For America

Unlike some of its rivals, namely Ford and General Motors, the North American Volkswagen Passat isn’t going anywhere – at least not yet. And to further showcase their dedication to family sedans, the Germans uncovered the facelifted version of the Passat at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

It’s still based on the same platform as its predecessor that’s unrelated to the European market Passat which is underpinned by the MQB. Nonetheless, it gets completely new sheetmetal, including a different profile and a more sloping roofline than the model it replaces.

There’s also a more imposing front grille that encompasses standard LED headlights, while at the back, along with newly styled tail-lamps, there’s an Arteon-inspired badging on the boot lid. Base models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels, with 18- and 19-inch rims available on higher trims.

Opening the door reveals a more mature cabin, in line with other new products from the German car brand. The upper part of the dashboard has been redesigned, incorporating air vents that flow across its width, there’s a new instrument panel and glass-covered infotainment touchscreen. The interior colors and trims have been updated as well, and clients will be able to choose between several options.

The MIB II infotainment system with SiriusXM (3-month trial included), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink and others comes as standard. Available features are the Discover Media with navigation, voice control, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, power-folding and heated side mirrors, adaptive headlights, cornering lights and rain-sensing wipers.

All new U.S.-spec Passats come with Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert. Moreover, they can be specced with Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four gasoline engine is carried over, rated at an identical 174 horsepower (176 PS / 130 kW) as the previous model, but torque has gone up from 184 to 207 pound-feet (249-281 Nm) of torque. The output is channeled to the front axle via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The updated Passat will hit VW dealers across the country this summer. It will be available in four trim levels, with a Limited edition to join the lineup. Pricing will be announced in due course.

*Update: Live photos from Detroit added to the gallery

more photos...
  • designer_dick

    So, similar in exterior design to the new Chinese Passat, but quite obviously not the same car. The interior is a huge disappointment, especially compared to its Chinese doppelganger… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/83c9fe587e7ae2863c88ab6f532b9b833aa75683e46d0332870c6f04203dc840.jpg

    • Jason Panamera

      ,,to suffer” made my day : D . Dunno why VW keeps that model still alive. There are like 4 or more versions of passats worldwide: EU version, China’s Magotan, China’s Passat and US version which seems like to be done without purpose, just meh. Maybe they should consider offering Phideon on US market ?

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      They don’t consider Americans sofisticated enuff to appresheate a better Passat. :-“

      • blunt-o

        They will as soon as Americans start correctly spelling their own language, or shedding their conservative, bulky, gross and vulgar sense of esthetics, expressed in huge SUVs, 12 mpg muscle cars,
        show-off trucks that waste fossil fuels, and consuming 25% of the planet’s fossil fuels while being only 5% of its population.

        • DE32W

          @philipdabague:disqus It’s spelled “aesthetics”.

          • blunt-o

            or es·thet·ic
            [es-thet-ik or, esp. British, ees-]
            relating to the philosophy of aesthetics; concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
            relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
            having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
            relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.

          • pissedoffjuicebox

            Yes, you Brits don’t know how to spell.

    • Alex

      It’s like when car makers refuse to update a car on third-world markets and just facelift it to make it look like the first-world model. But this time it’s VW updating a model in the third-world and refusing to update it in the first-world. Weird.

      • Perry F. Bruns

        I disagree that China is a “third-world” country, even allowing for the obsolescence of the term. BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are the fastest-growing economies on Earth right now and have been for awhile. India has as many or more people in the middle class as the U.S. has people. And given our current state, I hesitate to call us “first-world.” I’d call China a “rapid-growth” nation and the U.S. a “fading economic power.”

  • Althea Later

    Looks like a melding of 8 year-old Asian cars. Pathetic.

  • designer_dick

    They didn’t even have the decency to redesign the door trim to freshen it up a little. In fact, it looks like they only really redesigned the upper half of the dashboard. As you can see, the controls remain the same, and they’re in the same location. This is true minimum effort, zero f*cks given carmaking.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6378f3cab492dbfe7ce3fc9f699aefb537214e1de9b686196eecd5672369aeba.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f5f23dceaeb0927e132cc3ba21067459305d3f65da4c1a50da87dadeb8cac3c2.jpg

    • Yep. This interior design goes all the way back to the 1990s.

    • no25

      All they really did then is just connect the air vents and change the steering wheel. lol

    • mihsf

      A well-designed product ages well.
      This is economically very clever. Minimum investment, good quality product, maximum earnings.

      • Richard Martin (Bunnificus)

        That’s the nice way to say cynically, cheaply engineered.

        • DE32W

          @richardmartinbunnificus:disqus Well put! I enjoy the VW fanboys here staying that this is a “clever” move.

    • Zizou

      Maybe redesign for center console is make the middle sector equal to the edge sector from top to bottom. The middle sector follow slope angle of the edge sector. So not sunken model again.

  • Snoozefest. Will be popular with fleet rentals.

  • rockyroad

    Why can’t VW sell the EU Passat in US? Is EU Passat too “flawed” by American regulations? What’s the hate?!

    • designer_dick

      It’s too expensive. It would start from close to $30,000.

      • Rocket

        Wouldn’t have to be. If they simplified the configurations and built it in Chattanooga, there’s no reason it couldn’t be priced competitively. VW still doesn’t understand the US market.

        • performante

          They shot themselves in the foot trying to compete with Ford and Toyota in the US, and in turn cheapified all their cars in the U.S.. At this point very few people would buy a Euro Passat, because their perception of the brand (in the U.S. at least) is skewed. Really VW should be a notch above Ford and Toyota.

    • lagunas3ca

      The prehistoric instrument cluster, infotainment system, gear selector, etc.

  • designer_dick

    It’s older than that. The PQ46 platform debuted in 2005, and is really just a stretched and widened variant of the PQ35 platform that underpinned the MkV Volkswagen Golf, which launched FIFTEEN years ago.

  • Matthijs

    There is also a non R-Line Passat on the stand. Why didn’t you take pictures of that one?

  • Daniela Wolf

    sad story, Americans do not want to pay european prices therefore they can only enjoy the low carb editions. 🙁

    • lagunas3ca

      For this overpriced garbage? No, we don’t.

  • Karl

    Boring Company!

  • BGM

    My friend once bought a Passat B5 in 2001. The tiny screen between the tack and speedometer on this one looks to be the same size as in his, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has the same font. Also, a car in 2019 that has ye olde pull up parking brake handle…. And is that a CD player I see, a technology that has been dead for about 10 years?

    VW is so full of shit they think this is good enough.

  • pngrant54

    Look-Lets be realistic. The mid sized sedan market is slowly dying. Ford, FCA, and GM have pulled out of the market. The Japanese and the Koreans appear to be the most successful at selling high volume. So Volkswagen is in a quandary. The’ve never been at or near the top in mid size sedan sales. They have to be in a certain price point. They learned this the hard way with older Euro Passats. The current Passat made in Chattanooga was getting a bit old in the tooth but yet people are still buying them. So the question remains what’s the best course of action. Going to the MSB platform Passat that has sold in the rest of the world is going to force VW out of its price point again. The car really needs to be in the 25K range. The currant platform is not bad. It rides and handles acceptably for a mid sized sedan for the US market. So the logical thing to do was give it a restyle and make improvements where possible in order to keep the price where VW can make a profit on it and make some volume. The revised car does this. It looks more streamlined in a conservative sort of way. It is very roomy which is what US buyers need. It has decent trunk space. The dashboard looks like the Euro Passat more now. Being that there is a smaller pie to deal with Passat sales actually might increase. The engine going to have a little bit more poke as well. I think it compares well to a base Nissan Altima or Kia Optima etc.

    • charlotteharry57

      You’re kinda right. Taken as individual brands, the Koreans are no longer moving the Richter Scale in midsize sedans (out the door pricing is the culprit, which can be higher for a Sonata or Optima than a Camry; ridiculous). The Japanese Big Three are tops, but the Fusion is a solid fourth. Then, it’s a sizable drop to the Malibu, in fifth. Yes, if you combine Hyundai and Kia, those two are around the Fusion in total. The Passat is WAY down the scale.

  • Paul

    Meh. I liked the previous one better.

  • Trey Bellamy

    Smart business decision by VW honestly. They are going to save money, by keeping the same platform and sales will definitely increase being that most shoppers will think this is a completely new car.

  • ztamg04

    I dont get the fake quad tailpipes. its gottta be one of the industry’s most annoying design flaws ever.

  • KAG25

    Made it look just like a bigger version of the new Jetta, except for the show cars 20 inch wheels that looks like a bigger Jetta.

  • MJ Coffey

    I actually like it a lot. Hope, the EU-spec Passat will look the same.

  • Craig

    It could have the underpinnings of a 1976 Plymouth Volare and most buyers wouldn’t care. [Or even notice]

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